Story by Sgt. Jennifer Amo, 715th Public Affairs Detachment
Thursday, April 14, 2016
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. (April 8-10, 2016) – Steady position, proper aim, breathing, and trigger squeeze describe the four fundamentals of marksmanship. However, it takes a lot more to be competitive in a national tournament. It takes dedication and camaraderie to persevere through the trials of training and competition.
The District of Columbia National Guard Marksmanship team battled blustering winds and snow showers during the last series of training at Fort A.P. Hill before they compete in the Winston P. Wilson Rifle and Pistol Championship in North Little Rock, Arkansas, in late April.
“This year, the team has been training since January for the National competition and I am really surprised at the progress that the team has made since our first firing order and the state competition,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Bandy, state marksmanship coordinator.
“I have seen a lot of good things especially in terms of rifle marksmanship, tight shot groups, shooting the advance combat optical gunsight and everyone hitting targets from 100-800 meters,” said Bandy. “I expect everyone to do really well at nationals.”
Sgt. Francois Alfred, said this rigorous training is necessary because it shows the physical and mental demands placed on the shooters during the national competition.
Soldiers dealt with three days of shooting with rifles and pistols, to running towers and acting as range safety officers while doing ammunition duty at the wee hours of night.
Sgt. Eugenia Hughes and Spc. Simeon Brown, veterans of the marksmanship team, help to train Soldiers for the upcoming rigors of the national competition and gain invaluable experience running different aspects of their training.
“You get this huge training value and when you go, you get to shoot alongside subject matter experts and make lifelong connections,” Brown said.
Advance marksmanship training not only helps individual Soldiers but these skills can be transferable to unit training with learning how to conduct ranges and helping Soldiers with basic qualifications on rifles, Bandy said.
2nd Lt. Malik Jenkins-Bey said, competitions such as these help to develop the next set of leaders because its builds camaraderie and teamwork with the different aspects involved in the difficult nature of planning, conducting and participating in a national competition.
“See a need, fill need” is the motto of the program with every Soldier helping to foster a better environment for future Soldiers of the program.